Chinese Lessons-1: How this developed

This is one of the most important charts.

It shows in orange bars the daily official number of cases in the Hubei province: How many people were diagnosed that day.

The grey bars show the true daily coronavirus cases. The Chinese CDC found these by asking patients during the diagnostic when their symptoms started.

On January 21st, the number of new diagnosed cases (orange) is exploding: there are around 100 new cases. In reality, there were 1,500 new cases that day, growing exponentially. But the authorities didn’t know that. What they knew was that suddenly there were 100 new cases of this new illness.

Two days later, authorities shut down Wuhan. At that point, the number of diagnosed daily new cases was ~400. Note that number: they made a decision to close the city with just 400 new cases in a day. In reality, there were 2,500 new cases that day, but they didn’t know that.

The day after, another 15 cities in Hubei shut down.

Up until Jan 23rd, when Wuhan closes, you can look at the grey graph: it’s growing exponentially. True cases were exploding. As soon as Wuhan shuts down, cases slow down. On Jan 24th, when another 15 cities shut down, the number of true cases (again, grey) grinds to a halt. Two days later, the maximum number of true cases was reached, and it has gone down ever since.

Note that the orange (official) cases were still growing exponentially: For 12 more days, it looked like this thing was still exploding. But it wasn’t. It’s just that the cases were getting stronger symptoms and going to the doctor more, and the system to identify them was stronger.

The rest of regions in China were well coordinated by the central government, so they took immediate and drastic measures.

Each Chinese region had the potential to become exponential, but thanks to the measures happening just at the end of January, all of them stopped the virus before it could spread.

Meanwhile, South Korea, Italy and Iran had a full month to learn, but didn’t. They started the same exponential growth of Hubei and passed every other Chinese region before the end of February.

South Korea cases have exploded, but have you wondered why Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand or Hong Kong haven’t?

All of them were hit by SARS in 2003, and all of them learned from it. They learned how viral and lethal it could be, so they knew to take it seriously. That’s why all of their graphs, despite starting to grow much earlier, still don’t look like exponentials.

So far, we have stories of coronavirus exploding, governments realizing the threat, and containing them. For the rest of the countries, however, it’s a completely different story.

A note about South Korea: The country is probably an outlier. The coronavirus was contained for the first 30 cases. Patient 31 was a super-spreader who passed it to thousands of other people. Because the virus spreads before people show symptoms, by the time the authorities realized the issue, the virus was out there. They’re now paying the consequences of that one instance. Their containment efforts show, however: Italy has already passed it in numbers of cases, and Iran will pass it tomorrow (3/10/2020).

Read all (Big article with a lot of data)

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